Ontario Liberals in Free Fall: Desperate to make political hay resort to outsourcing derangement syndrome
In response to the outrage expressed by the handful of Ontario Liberals still hanging on to that sinking ship over the American photo gaffe by the NDP, I redirect you to the biggest such gaffe of them all: The Ontario Liberals outsourcing provincial flags to China. Procurement of the provincial flag, which as McGuinty admitted, “there’s nothing nearer and dearer to the soul of our province than the flag” was being outsourced to China, resulting in very little savings, lost Ontario jobs, and lesser quality flags. So Liberals before becoming unhinged by a little gaffe, re-read this piece from a couple of years back:
For crying out loud, even the Chinese consulate in Toronto doesn’t order its flags from China!Only the Province of Ontario would do such a thing to cannibalize its own workforce.It is disgraceful — although perhaps fitting Ontario now has its own provincial flag made in China, where the rest of the province’s jobs have been disappearing to for years.What’s next? We start ordering our takeout Chinese food from China!Don’t give them any ideas in a province that has already lost thousands of manufacturing jobs to a country that can find workers at a rate considerably less than what is expected to be paid here.
Meanwhile, as Ontario sells out its own workforce, the great Province of Quebec still gets its fleur-de-lys provincial flag made in Ontario.How about that! Run that news up a flagpole at Queen’s Park!And, as mentioned above, so does the Toronto Chinese consulate, which has a lot of official dinners here in Toronto and when you see that striking red Chinese flag on your table, you can be proud that it was made at Flying Colours right here in Parkdale.
Actually most of Canada’s provinces get their flags made here — as do other countries and U.S. states.“We make millions of flags every year,” says Edward McLean, of Flying Colours International. “And we make them for everybody.”Except, of course, for the Province of Ontario.Flying Colours has been making flags in an early 1900s factory on Sterling Rd. since 1926. But in 2007, the Province of Ontario rejected their latest bid of $18 a flag and they lost the $40,000 annual contract to a Chinese manufacturer who can make flags for less.“But it’s not that much less,” says McLean.“And our quality is of a different level.
“The colours in the Canadian and Ontario flags made in Toronto are second to none.“Our colours are richer. And the flags are to exact standard.”At this plant they also “unfortunately” make the Canadian flags for the caskets of the Canadian soldiers who come home from Afghanistan.So far, no one has made any suggestion about outsourcing those. Again, don’t give them any ideas.“But I do worry that we could have soldiers over in a war zone — somebody fighting for a flag that was made in China,” says McLean.
“A flag is not a pen or a book. A flag is a symbol.” Here are more symbols: Carmen, Savi, Edna, Larisa, Savitra, Bosina, Daisy and Ivy. These are just some of the women on sewing machines we met, who could lose their jobs if the trend set by your province continues.These are Canadian employees — about 100, some of whom hail originally from China. They all want to keep as much work here as they can. Although companies like Flying Colours are holdouts, many are succumbing to the economic pressure.
“There are no guarantees” that these jobs will stay here forever, McLean says.They certainly won’t if others follow the lead of Ontario and send the work abroad.“If this keeps up in Canada we won’t have manufacturing anymore,” adds McLean, who as he shakes his head says, “all to save a couple of pennies on a flag.”Since 1926 Flying Colours has resisted the lure of offshore mega-profits and stayed right at home. “It’s a small family-owned company and for us it’s about more than just making profit,” he says.“It’s about a community. All of our people live in the city and we love them. The average employee has been here 17 years.”
Loyalty. On both sides. Companies who outsource have abandoned that principal and traded it for fat coffers while ambitious bean counters cheer them on.Of course how can you blame them when this very province encourages business arrangements with China.“This was an exciting trip that showed just how much potential there is for Ontario to develop partnerships in China that will lead to jobs and opportunity for our province,” said Premier Dalton McGuinty after a 2005 trip there — one of many.He ought to drop by Flying Colours and take a look at a top-flight Ontario manufacturer and its fine workers facing extinction.And I would love to do a column on how many Ontario jobs have been created from his China trips. Please, point me in that direction.